Cathy Breslaw's Installation

Cathy Breslaw's Installation
Cathy Breslaw's Installation:Dreamscape

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Getty Center Exhibits Lithographs, Etchings and Woodcuts by German artist Kathe Kollwitz

The Getty Research Institute
The Getty Center, Los Angeles
Kathe Kollwitz: Prints, Process, Politics
Through March 29, 2020

Written by Cathy Breslaw

Käthe Kollwitz (German, 1867–1945), Charge, between 1902 and 1903sheet 5 of Peasants’ War. Etching, drypoint, aquatint, lift ground, and soft ground with the imprint of two fabrics and Ziegler’s transfer paper, printed in black ink on copperplate paper, and reworked with white pigment and black washstate III of XIII. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2016.PR.34) Partial Gift of Dr. Richard A. Simms. © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York

Kathy Kollwitz’s 5 decades of art-making took place in her homeland, Germany during turbulent societal change and the devastation of two world wars. Her works document the poverty, injustice and loss she and her fellow Germans experienced during these years – including the loss of one of her sons. Though she began as a painter, Kollwitz found that etchings, woodcuts and lithographs better portrayed her ideas, thoughts and emotions to a more easily accessible and broader audience. 

The works in this exhibition are derived from the Dr. Richard Sims Collection donated to the Getty Research Center. These prints include ‘preparatory sheets’ which are preliminary drawings that reveal Kollwitz’s artistic process and experimentation with materials, composition and manipulation of subject matter. It gives insight into the artist’s creative process both from her thoughts and the actual drawings. Overall, Kollwitz’s works are evocative and express intense emotion whether it is through the pose or poses of the subjects, facial expressions or sometimes oversized and expressive hands.

In Peasants’ War(1908), one of her print cycles produced over six years (resulting in seven prints),  Kollwitz reveals the effects of social injustice and revolution in a tragic period of German history. These drawings, trials in lithography and etching and working proofs convey the artist’s conscientious planning and creation of the prints.

Kollwitz’s focus on both technique and subject simultaneously are demonstrated in her work In Memorium Karl Liebknecht(1920). Liebknecht, the leader of the German Communist Party was arrested and killed and was joined by 100,000 mourners at the gravesite. Having witnessed the burial, Kollwitz was inspired – and moving through creating an etching, a lithograph and then finally to a woodcut, which she believed best expressed her intent.

Kollwitz remains as one of Europe’s most important artists and this exhibition is an opportunity for U.S. audiences to  view these works rarely seen in our country. This exhibition was curated by Louis Marchesano. The Audrey and William H. Helfand Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Christina Aube, Exhibitions Coordinator at the Getty Research Institute, and Naoko Takahatake, Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Getty Research Institute.

Käthe Kollwitz (German, 1867–1945), In Memoriam Karl Liebknecht, between early August and Christmas 1920, woodcut, printed in black ink on japan paper, state V of VI. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2016.PR.34). Partial Gift of Dr. Richard A. Simms © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Snapchat and Artist Christian Marclay Collaborate - Five New Installations at Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Christian Marclay: Sound Stories
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Through October 14th

Written by Cathy Breslaw

Christian Marclay, The Organ(detail) 2018, installation photograph, Christian Marclay x Snap:Sound Stories at Le Centre d'art La Malmaison, Cannes, copyright 2019, photo Benoit Florencon

 For 35 years, artist Christian Marclay has examined the intersection between sound and image in his multidisciplinary work using performance, sculpture and video. Marclay’s new exhibition Sound Stories is the result of a collaboration with engineers at Snapchat, the multi-media messaging app that receives 3 ½ billion snaps per day. Drawing on sounds and images of everyday life, Marclay experimented with hundreds of thousands of publicly posted videos to create 5 immersive audio-visual installations, two of which are interactive, responding to visitor sounds and movements in the gallery spaces. A team of Snapchat engineers created algorithms using the posted videos, giving Marclay the “raw material” to de-construct and re-contextualize the recorded media.

Marclay made this statement: “Sound is too often ignored and purely incidental on most uploaded videos, image dominates, so I wanted to shift the focus on the sound. Sampling from millions of Snapchats was like having the largest ever collection of LPs to work with. Like a deejay, I started remixing these sounds.”  These comments capture the spirit of the exhibition and it is interesting to note that Marclay does not use social media which makes his collaboration with Snapchat even more intriguing. 

In All Together, Marclay used more than 400 snaps to create a composition that plays across 10 smartphones. The small screens with internal speakers are arranged at eye-level in a semi-circular wood structure and present an intimate space of synchronized sounds and images looped seamlessly from everyday moments publicly shared on the app.

Sound Tracks is a soundscape installation composed of eerie, unfamiliar noises generated by tablets whose sound is amplified through overhead circular speakers that also portray video images. Using Snapchat’s feature of “Turtle Mode”, the images are slowed down emphasizing static everyday activities.

The two screens in Tinsel Loop play a composition created by Marclay in 2005 by using an algorithm that searched sounds of millions of Snaps to match each note of the melody. The compositions are performed by fragments of Snapchat videos that match the pitch of each note, and, as the tune repeats itself a new series of fragments are used, each completely different.

The Organ is an interactive work where visitors are invited to play a keyboard in the center of the room. Working with engineers, Marclay developed an algorithm that locates sounds that correspond to musical notes. Each organ key triggers sets of snaps that closely match the note played, while a large visual screen displays a variety of people and situations.

Talk to Me/Sing to Me is an installation where visitors are invited to speak or sing into 42 smartphones suspended from the ceiling and placed at eye levels and spread throughout the gallery room. When a visitor speaks or sings into a phone, an algorithm uses speech detection and signal processing technology, the phones analyze voices in the room and respond by mimicking them.

While all 5 installations are fascinating in how they were produced, visitors will find the two interactive installations fun and engaging and especially worth the visit.

Christian Marclay and Andrew Lin, Director of Engineering, Snap Inc. in front of All Together(detail),2018 part of Christian Marclay: Sound Stories, copyright 2019 photo copyright Stephane Sby Balmy

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Paintings That Capture Light: California Artist Mary Corse at Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Mary Corse: A Survey in Light
Through November 11th

Article by Cathy Breslaw

Mary Corse    Untitled (White Light Series)1966     fluorescent light, plexiglass, and acrylic on wood        Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, NY gift, Michael Strauss  2016       photograph Mary Corse

Some art slaps you in the face with its boldness, shocking content or sheer massive size.  Not so for the work of Mary Corse whose first solo museum exhibition A Survey of Light is on view at Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Art viewers who typically pull out their phone cameras to capture images or themselves with the art need not waste their time in this activity. Corse’s art is about the direct ‘experience’ and cameras will only get in the way.

Corse has dedicated over 5 decades to her art practice to the focused study of light as both subject and material, as well as delving into the physical and metaphysical properties of light as energy and perception. In the 1960’s Corse’s technical experimentations of shaped monochrome canvases like Untitled (Octogonal Blue) 1964 and sculpture of acrylic on wood and plexiglass Untitled (Two Triangular Columns) 1965, are examples of her early work that reflect the influence of minimalism going on during in those years. Her work is also often associated with the West Coast Light and Space Movement.

During the 1960’s Corse engineered her first light box paintings, as painted white canvases transitioned into radiant fluorescent light.  She later developed a series of argon light boxes that were wireless and suspended from the ceiling using Tesla coils and high frequency generators that can transit an electromagnetic field through a wall. And, in order to create these works, Corse took physics classes and had to pass a proficiency test to acquire certain capacitors and wires for these pieces.

Corse’s White Light series came from her discovery of the tiny glass microspheres embedded in road paint  which she continues to use to create these light responsive works. Reflecting and refracting light, these tiny beads allow the viewer to notice and experience changes in the surface light of these paintings while moving across  in front of them, and viewing them from varying angles and distances. Subtle grid patterns and vertical/horizontal bands form the underlying composition within which the viewer notices changing patterns of shimmering light and the feeling of energy emanating from them.

Corse has pushed light’s formal and perceptual possibilities, while working in increasingly larger sized canvases, and sometimes incorporating black . There appears to be an inner glow and luminosity to these white monochrome paintings as well as an intriguing interactive quality as viewers participate in the experience by moving around the large and airy spaces of the gallery rooms.  There are no singular vantage points from which to observe these paintings, making it an active and highly subjective and fun experience of discovery.

Installation photograph, Mary Corse: A Survey in Light, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, July 28 - November 11 2019,  art Mary Corse,  photo Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation photograph, Mary Corse: A Survey in Light, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, July 28 - November 11 2019,  art Mary Corse,  photo Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation photograph, Mary Corse: A Survey in Light, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, July 28 - November 11 2019,  art Mary Corse,  photo Museum Associates/LACMA

Mary Corse   Untitled(White Inner Band), 2003   glass microspheres and acrylic on canvas,  96" x 240"   Private Collection, Mary Corse    photograph by Flying Studio

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Chinese Contemporary Artists Talk Culture Using Materials - Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Allure of Matter: Material Art From China

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Through January 5, 2020

Article by Cathy Breslaw
Song Dong, Water Records, 2010 Video Projection, (copyright) Song Dong,
Photo courtesy of Pace Gallery
For over 25 years artist Liang Shaoji  has used live silkworms to spin silk onto various objects and states “I am a silkworm”.  Highlighting the interconnectedness between humans, animals and nature with silk is rooted in the Chinese psyche and with legends that connect silk-making with the creation of Chinese civilization. In the exhibition The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China, twenty-one artists spanning four decades experiment with unconventional materials which serve as symbols of meaning for their work. For these artists, the material is the message and operates as a conduit to clues about Chinese contemporary culture.

Since the 1980’s, Chinese contemporary artists have used an array of materials:  black cola ash, cigarettes, human hair, cement, wood, thread, used clothing, plastics, paper, porcelain, gunpowder, nails, silk, and more. Common to all these artists is the rejection of established art forms and traditional materials, and the drive to invent new artistic languages. Thirty-five artworks using these materials take the form of painting, sculpture, installation and performance.

Many of the artists included in this show are well known in the Chinese contemporary art world, but not in the U.S. Artist Ai Weiwei, probably the most well known to Americans, includes his Tables at Right Angles(1998) where he employed a team of craftsmen using 16th century woodworking techniques to join two tables from the Qing Dynasty(1644-1911) without glue or nails, placing them at right angles, reconfiguring them, and depriving them of their original functionality. Weiwei questions the cultural value of antiques and artworks in contemporary society.

Fascinated by its destructive and political implications, Cai Guo-Qiang experimented with gunpowder and developed a method to control and contain explosions to create gunpowder paintings.

Gu Dexin, who began experimenting with plastics while working in a plastics factory, created an installation (Untitled,1989), including plastics melted to abstract compositions, while also arranging used clothing and materials.

Gu Wenda’s United Nations: American Code (2018-19) uses human hair from all over the world to create his installation taking the form of a “house”, with the wish to create harmony by mixing cultures. This work, commissioned by the participating museums for this exhibition, is an ongoing project inspired by the politics and histories of various countries.

Jin Shan’s Mistaken (2015), created a sculpture of wood and plastic, the top being a bust of a heroic Communist worker which appears to melt away in fine strings and the body is made of wooden slats derived from old demolished houses. Shan shares the relics of the Cultural Revolution imagery with the memory of China’s nostalgic and fragmented past.

Lin Tianmiao’s Day-Dreamer (2000), uses white cotton threads, fabric and digital photography to create a colorless self portrait suspended from the ceiling. Having been taught to wind thread into skeins, she appropriates this domestic practice into her work since the 1990s.

Liu Jianhua’s work Blank Paper (2009-12) mimics two sheets of paper hanging on the walls but is actually made of fine porcelain, using pure white clay, unglazed, and fully exposed to the viewer in its fragility suggesting they fill the “empty spaces” with their thoughts. Adjacent to this piece is an installation of 8000 black porcelain flames(Black Flame 2016-17) suggesting a rapidly growing fire flickering across the gallery floor.

As part of her Wonderland Series, Ma Qiusha created Black Square (2016), a “painting” made of cement, nylon stockings, plywood, iron and resin. In a mosaic-like pattern, Qiusha creates a kind of tapestry and pattern both in fabric and stone in shades and sheens of black, alluding to generations of women who easily discarded nylons.

Song Dong’s Traceless Stele (2016), a sculpture of metal stele and a heating device invites viewers to write their own messages on the stone using brushes and water which ultimately disappear. Historically Steles were used as memorials in China for centuries, featuring carved inscriptions to relay information about people or events commemorated. Dong’s interest in the Daoist idea of impermanence using water’s translucency and formlessness is featured, as viewer’s brush-writings disappear quickly. His adjacent video Water Records (2010) plays simultaneously displaying how brushstrokes disappear as the artist completes each drawing with water.

Jin Wang’s The Dream of China: Dragon Robes (1997) made of pvc plastic and fishing line are based on the Chinese Imperial robes and theatrical costumes of generations ago, and bear encoded symbols of five-clawed dragons representing the imperial house and other symbols. Wang has replaced robes of rich silks, gold thread, and brocades with suspended translucent white plastic robes – each with memories or shadows of the original garments.

Xu Bing’s several drawings, collages, scroll and installation uses tobacco as material and subject, exploring the history and production of cigarettes, global trade and its impact on Chinese culture. Emphasizing the U.S. – China connection, Xu uses raw tobacco leaves, cigarettes, cigarette packaging and other marketing materials documenting the global economy  and Chinese art history. 1st Class (1999-2011) is an installation consuming an entire large gallery room floor in the shape and color patterns of a tiger rug – all made of thousands of actual cigarettes, systematically arranged and glued into a “rug”. There is a pervading scent of cigarette tobacco as viewers circle the room to view this work.

Zhang Huan’s Seeds (2007) is a painting on canvas created from incense ash, charcoal, and resin. Huan has worked with ash since visiting the Longhua Temple in Shanghai, where he saw ash from burned joss sticks or incense used in ritual prayers. He sees the ash as connected to the spiritual process and the” hopes, dreams and blessings” of those who visited the temple. Studio assistants helped sort the ash by shade and coarseness before Huan applied it to the canvas.

Chen Zhen, He Xiangyu, Hu Xiaoyuan, Peng Yu, Sui Jianguo, Yin Xiuzhen, Zhan Wang, and Zhu Jinshi are the balance of artists whose works are included in this show. The Allure of Matte: Material Art From China is the first exhibition of its size and scope documenting Chinese contemporary art on the west coast. The artists use a myriad of meaningful materials to discuss the complex history and current themes that document life for people in contemporary China.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Spirit of Flowers Appear - Roland Reiss's Paintings at Oceanside Museum of Art

Roland Reiss
Unrepentant & Unapologetic Flowers Plus Small Stories
Oceanside Museum of Art, Oceanside CA

Through September 8, 2019

8. Fleur du Mal II (#621)
Acrylic on canvas   68" x 52"

*All images courtesy of the artist and Diane Rosenstein Gallery

Article by Cathy Breslaw

Over the course of my life, I have sought out nature in all its forms including mountains, forests, hills, oceans, rivers, lakes, big skies and sunsets, across several countries – all with the expressed purpose of encountering the power and spirit of the universe.   I knew I would find it in these places.  As I walked through Roland Reiss’s Flower paintings(2007-present), these same feelings emerged –awe, wonder and the spirit of an exuberant artist who wants to ‘show’ rather than  ‘tell’.  This is evident in the fact that Reiss requested that no identifying information be placed beside each artwork. – no painting titles, sizes, mediums etc that we typically see elsewhere that art is exhibited. We are left on our own to observe and discover what these paintings communicate to us.

Flowers are the vehicle which Reiss uses to express color.  ‘Color’ is not an element of his works, it is the primary language. As a master technician in art-making, these expressions come across as easily as speaking a native language is to us. Being in the exhibition space in the presence of these paintings is reminiscent of southern California skies after a storm when the light is sharp, clear, bright and fresh.  The color combinations are vivid, intense, glowing and full of emotion. He wants us to feel his joy and to find our own.

Reiss plays with figure and ground in his compositions –in most of the paintings the imagery appears to float within the spaces of the canvases, and in others the ground is implied – where we may see a few flower pedals sitting alongside a vase. Once again, he wants us to ‘fill in the blanks’. The context or reference points are often missing. Reiss also manipulates spaces within each of his paintings. In some, the flowers appear to be three dimensional while others are simultaneously flat. Collapsing and expanding spaces add another dimension which challenges what a painting can be.

Another group of works appear to have vertical structural supports of stems for his flowers around and within which there are layers of tiny but discernible images of architecture – skylines of cities, capitol government buildings, museums, as well as monkeys, dancing people, butterflies, birds, geometric and abstracted shapes, and more. The imagery floats around like passing thoughts. Bouquets of flowers become worlds within worlds.

While most of the paintings have flat precisely crafted surface paint, there is a selection of those with a deliberate pattern of thick, textured sculptural brushstrokes. Multi-colored brushstrokes also appear as imagery within others works.

Its as if Reiss is holding a conversation about painting in his works.  He defies convention while charming us with the amazing range of color variations, varieties of flowers, imagery and general “eye candy”.  The standard compositions, color relationships, two and three-dimensional spaces, and the nature of and use of brushstrokes – the traditional  tenets of painting - all come into question in how they are played out.

Another portion of Reiss’s exhibition are the Small Stories -  sculptural tableaux which the artist is widely known for, and which he calls “three dimensional paintings”. These clear acrylic boxes contain cinematic miniature scenes that play out varying social, political and cultural scenarios referencing contemporary life, and where it is left up to the spectator to comprehend. 

In the title of Reiss’s exhibition: Unrepentant & Unapologetic Flowers, he addresses the notion of painting flowers as a disenfranchised subject. In one of the several personal statements about his work posted throughout the show, Reiss notes that the art world is generally dismissive of flowers as subject matter. It also goes along with the notion of beauty as a simple, trivial, superficial and irrelevant subject in art.  Seeing Reiss’s exhibition proves this wrong – that flowers (and beauty itself) grabs us humans at a deep unconscious level, one of the spirit – and there is nothing more important to contemporary society than to lift the human spirit and soul – and Reiss’s paintings do exactly that.

je t’aime en noir (#946)
oil and acrylic on panel   30" x 24"

F/X: In Search of Truth (#46)
Mixed media
24.5 x 24.5 x 14 inches
Unrepentant Flowers: Red (#995)
oil and acrylic on panel  30" x 48"
Sunflowers at Night (#672)
Oil and acrylic on canvas   68" x 52"
Unrepentant Flowers: Starry Blue
Oil, acrylic and ink on panel   30" x 24"

Monday, May 20, 2019

Argentina Artist Guillermo Kuitca at Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles

Guillermo Kuitca
Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles
Thru August 11th

Article by Cathy Breslaw
Guillermo Kuitca, The Family Idiot 2019 Oil on canvas in artist frame
92.5 x 186 cm / 36 3/8 x 73 1/4 in Triptych: 92.5 x 186 cm / 36 3/8 x 73 1/4 in overall©
Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & WirthPhoto: Gonzalo Maggi

Guillermo Kuitca’s paintings, works on paper and sculpture encompass both public and private psychic spaces. Architecture, blueprints, theater seating charts and maps are the structural forms from which he creates his works. In his first exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles, Kuitca presents several distinct types of work. The Family Idiot (2018-2019) series are a group of oils on canvas that are framed in wood – some are diptychs and triptychs which sit on an eye-level table while others hang on the wall. A combination of abstraction and figuration, these works are mostly darkened tonated reds, grays, and black – the paintings take us into parts of rooms and places with no reference points. They feel like dislocated personal psychological dream-spaces which are both haunting and beautiful and where the imagery can be difficult to discern. At times it seems we are peering into windows as voyeurs and viewing intimate and unclear experiences at a distance.

The smaller mixed media works on paper are untitled but refer to specific performance halls around the world – Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Opera House, Palais Garnier, Sydney Opera House, Oslo Opera House and others. Kuitca manipulates these seating charts to distort, meld and collapse physical spaces and as in his paintings, these works can be disorienting – contrary to the usual focus on a theater’s stage, the main event is the distortions of the empty seats identified by seat numbers. Each of these multi-colored strongly hued works take on a different character and are at times, more like drawings than paintings. Some retain their chart-like structure while others are fuzzy explosions of colors with shapeless forms that twist, bend and drip.

A recent body of work Missing Pages (2018), is a series of 18 canvases linked together in a grid pattern, taking its structure from the layout of a printer’s proof. The imagery in these oil paintings contain both figurative and geometric shapes, where connections to one another can be simultaneously both identifiable as well as confusing.

Retablo (2016) is an installation work which is accessed up a set of stairs into a darkened unfinished gallery space. Lit from within, this free-standing large oil painting on wooden panels references Cubism in its geometric divisions of carved up spaces and its neutralized dark greens, browns, reds, and grays. Set inside a large vertical deep wooden box, it appears as a stage, or backdrop. Altar-like in its lighted inner space, there is a brown road painted in the center leading into the narrowing distance to a seemingly imaginary place.

Kuitca who lives and works in Buenos Aires, Argentina uses his experiences with theater, philosophy and literature to create paintings, mixed media works, installation and sculpture that take viewers out of their comfort zone, and disrupts and challenges us to question where we are in space and time.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Masterful, Powerful Images by Charles White Trace African American History - LACMA Retrospective

Charles White: A Retrospective
Resnick Pavillion, LACMA
Through June 9th
Charles White, I Have a Dream, 1976, lithograph on Arches buff paper, 22 1/2 × 30 in., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Cirrus Editions Archive, purchased with funds provided by the Director's Roundtable, and gift of Cirrus Editions, © The Charles White Archives, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

Article by Cathy Breslaw

Charles White unites masterful skill as a draftsman, painter, printmaker and muralist with a deep passion for portraying the life and struggles of African Americans. Spanning four decades to 1979 when he died, White’s expressive figurative works of powerful images beginning with the labor movement of the 1930’s, and the issues of race, inequality and social politics remain relevant today. This retrospective is loosely organized in chronological order and arranged by city where White spent his time: primarily Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. On view are approximately 100 drawings, paintings, lithographs and photographs as well as audio recordings of occasional lectures White gave at LACMA while he lived and taught in Los Angeles. This retrospective, curated by Ilene Susan Fort, Curator Emerita of American Art includes 13 works in LACMA’s permanent collection. 

With sometimes startling sensitivity, White’s works exude a depth of feeling and intimacy that only someone who has personal familiarity and direct experience can depict. Some of his earlier paintings appear influenced by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, rendering images of the labor movement as well as the U.S. Communist Party in which White was politically active focusing on racism and social inequality. 

Sojourner Truth and Booker T. Washington (1943, pencil on illustration board 37” x 27.5”) is a study for the mural Contribution of the Negro to Democracy in America. ,” located at Hampton University in Virginia –  a depiction of a historical scene spanning centuries, showing black Union soldiers marching alongside the folk singer Leadbelly, captured in the midst of performance, while George Washington Carver works away in his lab.

General Moses (Harriet Tubman) 1965 ink on paper 47” x 68” and I Have a Dream, 1976 lithograph on paper  22.5” x 30” highlight a few of the historical figures depicted in black and white monumental images that capture our attention. Aside from these two works, there are many more with historical reference to important African Americans  - both men and women, young and old, from the arena of politics, entertainment, social activism, to anonymous street figures.

White is one of the most important American artists of the mid-twentieth century whose expressive figures communicate feelings of dignity and grace, and a remarkable combination of beauty, form and scale. His universal subject matter continues the dialogue about the history and culture of African Americans.

Charles White, General Moses (Harriet Tubman), 1965, ink on paper, 47 × 68 in., private collection, © The Charles White Archives, photo courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries 

Charles White, Sound of Silence, 1978, color lithograph on white wove paper, 25 1/8 × 35 1/4 in., The Art Institute of Chicago, Margaret Fisher Fund, 2017.314, © The Charles White Archives, photo © The Art Institute of Chicago

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Hammer Museum Exhibits Dirty Protests:Selections from the Collection

Mike Kelley   City 000     mixed media installation(partial view)    2010

Dirty Protests: Selections from the Hammer Collection
Organized by Chief Curator, Connie Butler with Vanessa Arizmendi, Curatorial Assistant
Through May 19th

Article by Cathy Breslaw

The major thread tying this exhibition together is that the works are a combination of  recent museum acquisitions along with some of its permanent collection that have never been shown before. Works on paper, paintings, video, sculpture and drawing in a mix of mediums from 40 international and established multi-generational artists are on view. For museum visitors, navigating this exhibition can be both confusing and intriguing.  Upon first glance, the provocative title of the exhibition Dirty Protests (oil painting by Iranian artist Tal Madani, 2015) misleads the viewer.  Madani’s work which sometimes represents male subjects in a baby or child-like manner addresses serious cultural themes, but is only one theme represented in this show. Installation piece City 000 (2010) by Mike Kelley which references the Superman story, employs rock-like geological structures as a base for a shrunken city. Lit from within, this group of transluscent multi-color resin bottles arranged as a city scape is set up high, atop a black massive-sized rock with a staircase the viewer can climb to examine.  Mark Bradford’s painting I Don’t Have the Power to Force the Bathhouses to Post Anything (2015), representative of his mixed media collages made from billboard segments, flyers and graffitied stencils reflecting his urban community stood out as well as webcam video sickhands (2011)  by millennial artist Petra Cortright,  who sometimes uses webcams to create short self-reflective examinations of feminine self-worth and identity using software to enhance, manipulate and distort images of the female form.
Ghanian artist Ibrahim Manam’s ALIJA X (2015-16) sleeping prayer mats melted on coal sacks is one example of several works in this exhibition that use a myriad of materials combined in unusual ways to contextualize their ideas. Organized by Chief Curator Connie Butler with Vanessa Arizmedi, Curatorial Assistant, Dirty Protests is on view through May 19th.
Mike Kelley, City 000, 2010. Mixed media. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchased through the Board of Overseers Acquisition Fund with additional funds provided by Chara Schreyer and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and Nicolas Rohatyn.

Mark Bradford, I Don't Have the Power to Force the Bathhouses to Post Anything, 2015. Mixed media on canvas, 132 x 120 in. (framed; 335.3 x 304.8 cm), Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchased with partial funds provided by Linda and Bob Gersh and Angella and David Nazarian.

Ibrahim Mahama, ALIJA X, 2015-2016. Sleeping prayer mats melted on coal sacks, 90 9/16 × 114 9/16 in. (230 × 291 cm). Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchased with funds provided by Beth Rudin DeWoody. ©Ibrahim Mahama.

Tala Madani, Dirty Protest, 2015. Oil on linen. 76 x 79 x 1 3/8 in. (193 x 200.7 x 3.5 cm). Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchase.

Mika Tajima, Epimelesthai Sautou (Take Care), 1, 2014. Thermoformed acrylic, spray enamel, aluminum. 78 × 78 × 32 in. (198.1 × 198.1 × 81.3 cm). Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Gift of Kayne Griffin Corcoran. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer.
Petra Cortright, rgb,d-lay, 2011. Webcam video. Running Time: 24 seconds. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchase. Courtesy of the Artist. © 2014 Petra Cortright